Wednesday, December 17, 2014

I Am That Woman - Vanessa Shields (Black Moss Press)

Today's book of poetry:
I Am That Woman.  Vanessa Shields.  First Line Poetry Series/Black Moss Press.  Windsor, Ontario.  2013.


From the sounds of this poetry Vanessa Shields is someone you'd like to sit around the kitchen table with, telling war stories.

Watching and listening as she rants bold, beautiful and bawdy in I Am That Woman is a privileged thrill.

These poems jump off of the page with a voice of such powerful self-possessed femininity, womanhood, girlPOWER, you almost want to get up and dance.

It's like Shields is making a new declaration of place and time and ownership of her gender with each poem.

Empty Movie Theatre

We fucked in an
Empty movie theatre
Third row from the back
On the seat near the stairs
So the light could help us
See the buttons on our shirts
The zippers on our pants
The hunger in our eyes

The soles of my shoes
Stuck to the gray painted floor
Helping me steady my legs
As I rode him like
John Wayne his favourite horse

I worked at The Palace
So I knew
I knew when the theatre
Was     open
            empty
            free for the taking
And it should be taken
With messy verve and
Sloppy slapping of
Horny genitals needing midnight release

We fucking in an
Empty movie theatre
As often as we could
Two film lovers
In the buff
Bouncing on blue seats
Appreciating the splendor
Of a blank white screen

Watching us

...

I frigging (a word my artist friend Adrian Gollner would use because he is too fine a man to swear, not me, I'd normally use the other word) loved this book.  From the opening alarming pages to the section of eloquent longer poems called "I Am That Woman".

Shields holds back nothing.  Poem after tantalizing poem tightrope walks with equal parts tension and tease.

Where Is The Love?

These days I choose sleep over sex
Fiction over poetry
Movies over dancing

But oh we still dance
Do we ever dance
In the kitchen to Maroon 5 with the kids
Between our legs
My son reaching up to grab one boob
My daughter reaching up to grab the other

Where is the love in this poem?
The same place it is in our lives
In the passing glance he gives me as I wash the dishes
In the stink of our bad breath as I say good morning before the sun is
up and I leave the bed to go downstairs and
write everything but love poems
In the way he grabs my ass when I bend down to pick up a coat for the
nine jillionth time
In the way he tells me I'm beautiful ever when I haven't brushed my
hair and I can't remember the last time I took a shower

And when his hand finds the hill of my hip and
His fingers find the valley between my legs
            We remember
Our bodies guide us to yesterdays past when
Pleasuring each other was the only priority
When time to explore and explode was
An afternoon instead of a fifteen-minute morning romp
            We remember
How to show our love with our tongues and our skin
Not just with our eyes and our words

It all counts
It all matters
Our love was strong enough to make two kids
And it's strong enough to love them
more than all the love poetry in the world

...

This is not your Mothers poetry, this is an assault, a bold declarative line in the sand book.

Everyone in our office was howling, we are always thrilled when a book comes through the door that makes us sit straight up.  I Am That Woman had us standing on our chairs.  There was some dancing.

The Astronaut in my Shower

He's on the wall in my shower
Framed in splotchy molded grout
I see his back
Square white oxygen pack
Hefty boots round helmet
He's reminding me where earth is

He doesn't peak at my naked body
Looks away from my sagging breasts
Stretch-marked belly
Botticelli hips my
Hairy legs and armpits

He's quiet when
I masturbate or
When I cry and
Look to him for celestial help

...

Vanessa Shields just won Rookie of the Year here at Today's book of poetry.  Any year in fact.  This excellent debut of poetry blew our minds, kissed our cheek.

Outstanding.

Vanessa Shields

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Shields has made her home, her family and her work life flourish in Windsor, ON. Her passion for writing was discovered at a very young age through the vein of writing in a journal. Her first book, Laughing Through A Second Pregnancy – A Memoir, was published by Black Moss Press in 2011 to rave reviews. In April 2013, Shields edited Whisky Sour City, an anthology of poetry about and for her hometown city of Windsor. I Am That Woman, her first book of poetry, was published in November 2013. Her poetry, short stories and photography has been published is various literary magazines. She mentors, guest speaks and teaches creative writing, and she also created Poetry On Demand, on-the-spot poetry that helps make poetry fun and accessible for all.

BLURB
"Vanessa Shields' first book of poems, I Am That Woman, is a verdant and earthy conversation with the world where she celebrates her womanhood, her engagement with the actual, and with the power that words hold to capture the magic of a moment. Shields articulates an honesty that is refreshing and invigorating -- to say nothing of erotic -- and the directness and energy of her vision heralds the arrival of a frank and memorable voice. The overwhelming response to her poems is YES!"
      Bruce Meyer, Poet Laureate, city of Barrie


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